A US district court judge has issued an injunction against Kentucky's wholly unconstitutional omnibus abortion law that went into effect last week without any of the statewide support structure that the law requires, meaning it was legally impossible to perform the procedure in the state. That has been remedied...for now.
A federal judge has issued a temporary order blocking Kentucky's sweeping new abortion law that forced the state's only two providers to stop offering the procedure.
The law, House Bill 3, put Kentucky in the national spotlight for becoming the first state to eliminate access to all abortion services since the law took effect April 13.
In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings granted a request from one of the state's two abortion providers for a temporary restraining order, finding that the law took effect immediately with no opportunity for clinics to comply with its many new rules.
"The plain language of HB 3 is clear that the entire law became effective and enforceable on April 13, 2022," Jennings' opinion said.
Jennings said her order is not a ruling on the constitutionality of HB 3; she will consider that argument at a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of HB 3 before her temporary order expires in 14 days.
Thursday's ruling was celebrated by Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Center, the state's only abortion providers, though acknowledging it is only temporary.
"This is a win but it is only a first step," said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood's six-state group that includes Kentucky "We're prepared to fight for our patients' right to basic health in court and to continue doing everything in our power (to) ensure abortion access is permanently secured in Kentucky."
Heather Gatnarek, a lawyer who represents EMW, said the ruling clears the way for providers to resume abortion services.
"Abortion remains legal and is once again available in Kentucky," said Gatnarek, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. "We will always fight to keep it that way here and across the country."
But Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican who is defending HB 3 in federal court, said he "disappointed that the court chose to temporarily halt enforcement of the law."
"This law is constitutional and we look forward to continuing to defend it," Cameron said.